If you want to sample the best of the forest’s trails without having to find them yourself try following the course on the Wicked Ride of the East map above. Or attend this year’s event.
Everyone I know who rides at Harold Parker raves about the place. The trails seem endless. The terrain ranges from smooth buffed singletracks to some of the most technical cross country trails on the North Shore.
When I ride at Harold Parker I normally do one of three rides.
For the first ride I’ll park in the dirt parking lot on the north side of Harold Parker Road just west of Collins, Brackett, Delano and Bear Ponds. I try to ride all of the singletracks and woods roads in this area as they loop around these ponds. In doing this I do not cross any paved roads. So if you get to one, turn around and continue exploring. I don’t have a preferred route, although some of the singletracks are much more fun when ridden down than they are as uphill climbs. If I have time I’ll finish on the trails to the south of Harold Parker Road that loop around the north of Field Pond. Actually, I always have time, as these trails are among my favorite trails in the forest. If you explore the trails to the east of Field Pond you’ll find one that leads into the back of the Lorraine Pond Campground.
Another good ride option is to park at the junction of Harold Parker and Jenkins Roads. Berry Pond Road also comes into this intersection. There is a large parking area here which is located pretty much in the center of the forest. From there I’ll choose one of the many forest roads to get deeper into the forest and then dive into any of the almost uncountable number of singletrack trails that lead off from them. A particular favorite among these is the technical singletrack that branches off from Harold Parker Road, which at this point has devolved into a dirt path. About 100 yards from the parking area turn right on the first singletrack. This trail is difficult and will serve as a great warmup for all of the other similar trails that you’ll encounter. Yellow diamond blazes mark the route to and around Salem Pond. Be sure to bring a copy of at least one of the maps mentioned above, as you will get lost without one.
For a third ride I focus on the trails in northeastern third of the forest. I’ll follow Berry Pond Road from the Jenkins parking lot to the crossing of the Bay Circuit Trail, and then take a right heading north. Following the white blazes and exploring additional singletrack spits you out on Harold Parker Road near Route 114. One can retrace the route back or continue behind Stearns Pond and Salem Pond for almost a 10 mile loop. But, at the northern end of this loop there is a vast array of convoluted singletracks that are almost too much fun to believe.
Riding in Harold Parker State Forest is a constant continuing challenge. Every time I go there I am awed by the trails that I find and surprised at how much fun I have. And, depending on the trails that I ride, how difficult they are.